Monday, June 13, 2011

New tools: Assessing damage of the Queensland Flood – 3

These ‘new’ tools are amazing and in this case, were produced very quickly. However as with most innovations (?), the consequences are often more interesting. What has happened of course is that it has become obvious that despite the state and local government knowing the risk of flood in these flooded areas is very high (in geological terms, just look at the landscape), the fact the history only extends a little over 100 years of reliable evidence in western scientific terms, means that relying on the assessed risk is very unreliable.

- From Michael Yeates, Brisbane

With such a short history, predicting flood risk is arguably too unreliable … thus allowing developments to occur in areas that are obviously at high risk but have perhaps only been flooded once or twice in the last 100 years or so.

The question then is, given all urban development is approved by the state and local governments, who should carry the risk of living or working in such flood prone areas?

Just north of Brisbane, a 50,000 person new town “Caloundra South” is being proposed on an area with scant historical data mainly because it was anything but desirable agricultural land and was known to be prone to regular local flooding plus major regional inundations. Not surprising then that few people lived or farmed there … until the 1920s.

But there are historical anecdotes of large areas nearby with similar geological characteristics inundated by flood waters of 3 to 4m or more for up to a week … but so little ‘evidence’ that again, it is too easy to ignore.

It is an interesting period to be involved in when advances such as this imagery demonstrate the unreliability of scientific assessments by governments and developers whose aim is to promote growth and jobs by promoting development yet other forms of scientific knowledge such as geology and geography (and ecology?) are not regarded as reliable.

Interestingly the consultants involved in “Caloundra South” appear to have justified this development on the basis it will have no NETT (Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials) detrimental impacts … the details can be found at the following link …

Will similar images be shown of “Caloundra South” flooded as it seems it may have been in the preceding 100s if not 1000s of years? Are there better sites for a city such as this? Is this really a city of the future or just more of the same?

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Michael Yeates,
Public Transport Alliance
Brisbane Australia

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